The health effects of climate change in the UK

The Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency have today published an updated report of the Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK.

The original report was published by the Department of Health in 2002. Five years later, the new report takes into account up-to-date information and current predictions about climate change in the UK .

New information provided by the report shows that the UK population is adapting well to the increasing temperatures experienced since the 1970s, but heatwaves still pose a serious problem to health and they will become more frequent.

The main findings of the report include:

  • By 2012 there is a 1 in 40 chance that South Eastern England will have experienced a serious heatwave.
  • Periods of very cold weather will become less common, while periods of very hot weather will become more common.
  • Winter deaths will continue to decline as the climate warms.
  • Flooding is an increasing risk.
  • Tick-borne diseases are likely to become more common in the UK , but this is more likely to be due to changes in land-use and leisure activities, than to climate change.
  • Increased exposure to sunshine and to ultraviolet light will lead to an increase in skin cancers.
  • The UK population seems to be adapting to increasingly warm conditions.

The full updated report from the Department of Health can be found at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsStatistics/DH_074439

One of the authors of the report, Professor Robert Maynard from the Agency, said "The present scientific consensus is that the climate is changing and that human activity is contributing significantly to this. We have to prepare for the consequences and consider the possible health impacts. Some aspects are positive, for example there are likely to be fewer deaths due to cold weather, but others are potentially negative, including increases in food poisoning and dangers from both floods and droughts."

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